Understanding Thyroid Cancer: Diagnosis, Risks, Prevention, and Treatment

Dr. Aju Mathew MD, DM, FACP, MPhil (Cambridge), Dip American Board (Int Med, Med Onc, Hemat)

Understanding Thyroid Cancer: Diagnosis, Risks, Prevention, and Treatment

The incidence of thyroid cancer diagnoses is on the rise, prompting important questions about its detection, associated risks, and treatment options. This blog delves into these critical aspects, providing valuable insights into this increasingly common condition.

Diagnosing Thyroid Cancer: A Two-Pronged Approach

Thyroid cancer often manifests through various signs and symptoms, with a mass or lump in the neck being a notable indicator. In some instances, thyroid nodules or masses are incidentally discovered during ultrasounds or CT scans conducted for other reasons. Surprisingly, these cases may not present any symptoms or neck mass. Regardless of the presentation, doctors typically resort to Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology (FNAC) to confirm the presence of thyroid cancer.

Hyperthyroidism, Hypothyroidism, and Thyroid Cancer Risk

Contrary to some beliefs, having hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism does not elevate the risk of developing thyroid cancer. However, individuals exposed to neck radiation carry a slight risk. Additionally, familial thyroid cancers, although exceedingly rare, can occur. In families with multiple cases of thyroid cancer, the possibility of a genetic mutation exists.

Can We Prevent Thyroid Cancer?

Currently, there is no known method to prevent thyroid cancer, as its causes remain largely unidentified. Ongoing global research aims to uncover these causes, with preliminary data suggesting a link with obesity. Following a healthy lifestyle is universally recommended to potentially reduce the risk of various cancers, including thyroid cancer.

Treatment Options for Thyroid Cancer

The primary treatment for thyroid cancer is surgery. Post-surgery, an option is Radioactive Iodine Ablation, which targets and destroys any residual thyroid tissue. This method involves administering iodine with radioactive particles, specifically targeting thyroid cells for concentrated radiation delivery. In rare scenarios, chemotherapy or targeted therapy tablets may be used. Notably, some thyroid cancers are slow-growing and may not require immediate intervention, as they rarely pose a significant threat to the patient.

Addressing Slow-Growing Thyroid Cancers

For slow-growing thyroid cancers, minimal surgery may be sufficient. Ongoing research strives to better identify cancers suitable for minimal intervention. Currently, distinguishing between slow-growing and aggressive cancers remains challenging, leading to the standard practice of complete thyroid gland removal. However, there’s a growing trend towards hemi-thyroidectomies (partial gland removal), approached with caution.

In summary, understanding the nuances of thyroid cancer—from diagnosis to treatment—is crucial in addressing this increasing health concern. As research progresses, more refined approaches and preventive strategies are expected to emerge, enhancing the management of thyroid cancer.

Dr. Aju Mathew
MD, DM, FACP, MPhil (Cambridge),
Dip American Board (Int Med, Med Onc, Hemat)

Read More

Request a Callback Now

Quick Support

If you have a question that needs a quick response, please call
+91 9495866100 or email care@betserlife.com.
Thanks for helping us to find better ways to serve you.